(Washington, DC) Mayor Adrian M. Fenty proclaimed May 8 as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in the District of Columbia to raise awareness of the importance of effective programs for children’s mental health needs.
Steve Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health, will present the resolution during a national event at the historic Lincoln Theater. Herschel Walker, former All American football player and one of the top professional running backs, is among the national personalities promoting Children’s Awareness Day. In his autobiography entitled "Breaking Free," Walker revealed that he suffers from dissociative identity disorder, or DID, formerly known as "multiple personality disorder."
Howie Mandel, star of the popular television program “Let’s Make a Deal,” who is diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, is the National Children’s Mental Awareness Day Ambassador. Keke Palmer, star of “Akeelah and the Bee,” and Mark Indelicato, star of ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” are co-hosts of the program, and students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts will perform.
More than 3,000 children and youth receive services through our public mental health system, and the Department of Mental Health offers prevention, early intervention, and clinical services to youth and their families in 48 public schools, including charter schools.
“Like adults, children and teens can have mental health disorders that cause significant distress and impair their functioning at home, at school, with friends, or in the community.” said Baron. “Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life.”
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day was started in 2006 by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other national organizations to demonstrate how children’s mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience and to show how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities. The theme of this year’s event is “Still I Rise,” focusing on resiliency through the performing arts.